The Week: What Caught Our Eye

April 17, 2021

Photo of a yellow tulip flower.I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high o'er vales and hills / When all at once I saw a crowd / A host, of golden daffodils; / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. (The words of William Wordsworth. The artistry of Jeff Killeen.)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends:

We hope what you read here today will brighten your weekend and give you hope for the world.

FIRST IN HER CLASS: Albany High School has been around since just after the Civil War, welcoming its first students in September 1868. Onovu Otitigbe-Dangerfield is its first Black valedictorian. She’s plays the piano and violin, is president of several school clubs, co-captain of the soccer team, and co-editor in chief of the school newspaper. Onovu is looking at a career specializing in robot-assisted procedures in pediatric neurosurgery, she told “Good Morning America.” Her senior quote: "The best way to predict the future is to create it. Time to get to work.”

FOUR SIGHT: Jamie, Lucy, Maggie and Georgia Schneidereith are quadruplets, which already puts them in rare company; about 1 in 700,000 pregnancies result in quadruplets. But the sisters, from the Baltimore area, are doing something else even more remarkable: Each is playing Division I collegiate lacrosse, with Georgia at the University at Albany.

FIELDERS OPTIONAL: Hope Trautwein, a pitcher for the North Texas State softball team, pitched a perfect game the other day against the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, meaning not a single opposing batter reached base safely. Impressive, for sure, until you consider that not a single opposing batter even put a ball in play. Trautwein struck out all 21 batters she faced, an unprecedented feat at the top level of collegiate softball.

ARE YOU MISSING museums? Dreaming of dance? Thirsting for theater? Cheer up; April has brought more than its usual dose of springtime optimism, as beloved venues announce, albeit tentatively, a resumption of once-normal activities. Here’s a sampling of some of the places whose COVID-shuttered doors will once again be open. Please keep in mind, although in-person events may be back, spontaneity will not. Virtually all of these events and arenas require reservations in order to keep crowds small and safe. Don’t pack the picnic, dust off the opera glasses, or hire the sitter till you’ve checked all the details online.

CHARMED, WE’RE SURE: TravelMag, an online travel news site whose mission is “to fuel your sense of adventure, inflame your imagination, and inspire you to daydream, while providing all the information you need to make that dream a reality,” has named Saratoga Springs one of the 30 most charming small cities in the U.S., based on surveys of professional writers, photographers and travel industry specialists. And if you visit this summer, you may even be able to catch a day at the races.

THE GRAND UNION: Two of Saratoga Springs’ most historic hotels – the Rip Van Dam, built in 1840, and The Adelphi, built in 1877 – are being combined into one grand place to rest your weary head. The Rip Van Dam will be renovated into a 30-room inn with concierge service, a gym and spa, plus 90 luxury apartments, all of which will be linked to the 32-room Adelphi next door on Broadway.

WHY GO TO BOSTON … when you can go to an island on Lake George? “My extended family has camped on the islands of Lake George every summer for more than 60 years,” writes Boston Globe writer Jean Duffy. “The three eldest who will once again roll out their sleeping bags are in their 90s. Yes, 90-years young. Friends ask what we do on the island. We are in and out of the water all day — swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. We read on air mattresses like lizards basking in the sun. We eat, drink, read, swim, nap, eat more. And repeat.”

DUTY TO PROTECT: For those seeking a bit more permanence on the Queen of American Lakes, land values around Lake George have soared to all-time highs — one real estate agency reported a 73% jump in median list prices from the prior year — and as newcomers soon discover, home ownership around the legendarily pristine lake comes with an expectation that you will act to keep it that way. “You’re not just an owner of a lakefront home, but a true custodian of the lake,” property owner Paul Rutherford told the Times Union. “It’s your responsibility to maintain (the lake) and hopefully, to leave it better than you found it.”

BOTTLED, TAP OR FRESH: With summer approaching, veteran Capital Region journalist turned wine and food enthusiast Bill Dowd has offered up his list of the best Upstate New York spots to dine on the water. Among the Capital Region places he enjoys are the Inn at Erlowest in Lake George, the newly renamed Basin Grill in Schuylerville, Dinosaur Bar B Que, Ryan’s Wake Public House, Brown’s Troy Taproom and Yanni’s Too in Coeymans Landing. (To Bill’s list we’d add The Algonquin, the Boathouse and The Sagamore’s Pavilion, all on Lake George, and 550 Waterfront on Saratoga Lake.

BLAZING A TRAIL: Two years ago, Canada opened the Great Trail, the longest recreational trail in the world at nearly 15,000 miles across all 10 provinces from St. John's in the East to Victoria in the West. In the United States, hikers in the Northeast and Upper Midwest could soon be able to hike a continuous marked trail stretching east-west from Vermont to Minnesota, much of it through rugged backcountry terrain. A team of mostly volunteers is mapping the North Country Scenic Trail, which cuts through the Adirondacks.

UNO, CANADA: Canada, a staple near the top of U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of countries, ascended to No. 1 in the most recent rankings, lauded especially for its quality of life and social purpose. The U.S. ranked 6th. One finding to keep an eye on: Only 52.5% of those surveyed agreed that the U.S. is a “good role model in a functioning democracy.” More than 66% of Americans, on the other hand, agreed with that statement.

LOVE FROM COAST TO COAST: In just a few weeks, Kelly’s Angels – the charity that helps Capital Region families facing life-threatening conditions – will hold its signature Mother’s Day weekend fundraiser. Like the 2020 event, this year’s Mother-Lovin’ 5K run/walk will be virtual. Last year’s event attracted 900+ participants and, surprising organizers, included people from more than 20 states. This year, organizers want to spread the love nationwide. They’re seeking at least one participant from each of the 50 states.

A HOME IN ALMOST HEAVEN: If timing is everything, a $25 million gift from a West Virginia native to launch a recruitment drive for new residents could not have been more fortuitous. Called Ascend West Virginia, the program is offering a $12,000 cash incentive plus free use of the state’s vast outdoor recreation amenities for a year, including the use of equipment if you need it. The bet is that remote workers, free to live pretty much wherever they want, will give it a try and stay.

PASS FAIL: Like practically everything in our hyper-partisan, facts-optional world, there is a heated debate about requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for entry to theaters, sporting events and other mass gatherings. New York State launched an app called the Excelsior Pass, intended as a virtual confirmation that the bearer is vaccinated. One problem: it’s evidently pretty simple to forge.

LYF STYLES: David Reali started his business, Lyf Supply, in 2017 as a side hustle, producing primarily embroidered hats. Four years later, it’s the Troy resident’s full-time gig, with a product line that now includes T-shirts, hoodies, beanies and tote bags and customers in 12 countries.

REDEFINING HAZARD: A golfer in South Carolina found himself consulting the rule book to resolve a dicey dilemma – what to do when your ball comes to rest on the back of an alligator.

An old image showing a reporter interviewing a man in front of a truck with the words "Channel 17 Mobile Television" on the sideGlens Falls Mayor Robert J. Cronin is interviewed by a WMHT reporter in the early 1970s. (Courtesy of the Folklife Center of Crandall Public Library)

FROM SESAME STREET TO GLEN: Fifty years ago, public television came to life on screens across the Glens Falls area. It took civic leadership, corporate generosity and foresight to bring Big Bird to Hometown, U.S.A., as journalist and historian Maury Thompson recounts.

COVID-29: It wasn’t just you. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 42% of U.S. adults reported undesired weight gain during the pandemic, with an average increase of 29 pounds. Interestingly, about one in five people reported undesired weight loss, possibly from loss of muscle mass during gym closures. In any event, time to get moving again.

DOLLARS FOR SCHOLARS: Want to join the 10-figure club someday? Your best bet is to get your start at one of the Ivy League universities. Four of the top six and five of the top 10 institutions for producing graduates who go on to become billionaires are in the Ivy League.

AGELESS AMBITION: Barbara Bradley Baekgaard didn’t attend an Ivy League university, but she is in the rarefied financial air of their most successful graduates. One of the wealthiest self-made women in America, the retired co-founder of Vera Bradley has, at 82, just opened a new boutique hotel in her hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind., her first full-time foray into hospitality.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

In honor of Earth Day, April 22:

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” — John James Audubon

THE SIGNOFF

THE CONCERNED Krakow citizen called the Society for the Protection of Animals. There was, she said, a strangely shaped mystery creature lurking in a tree outside her building. She worried the creature was in distress. Her neighbors were worried the exotic beast might find its way into their homes. Oh, they could only hope.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Claire P. Tuttle, Lisa Fenwick, Matt Behan, John Behan, Tara Hutchins, Kelly Donahue and John Brodt.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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